Are any weight loss supplements considered safe?

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Are you trying to drop a few pounds? Maybe you want to fit into a new size, boost self-confidence or simply improve your health.

Every year, millions of Americans go after this same goal, some successful and others not so much. To attain their goals, they may choose from the over-abundance of diets and exercise programs available, and some turn to weight loss supplements as well.

While you shouldn’t rely on supplements to do all the work for you, there are a few that can be used safely to boost your weight loss efforts.

Before you decide on weight loss supplements, though, you should consider the health effects carefully. Always check with your doctor first to be sure about safety, and remember that these pills are supplements. They’re meant to be used alongside healthy eating habits and proper exercise.   

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Again, never use supplements by themselves to lose weight. Some people turn to weight loss pills so that they can continue an unhealthy lifestyle while staying thin.

This dangerous mentality could lead to frightening situations like addiction, overdose or death. Also, brands that claim to shed weight without any effort may contain ingredients that will do you more harm than good. If you have any doubt about a supplement, stay away.   

Weight Loss Supplements that Work

Just like any other medication, weight loss supplements have both benefits and side effects. When choosing a supplement, you should know all the possible effects and consider them in light of your own health history. Especially if you have other health issues, you should check carefully for ingredients that may trigger or worsen your symptoms.

Let’s look at 3 supplements that you could consider adding to your weight loss program:

1. Green Tea Extract

Green tea has long been known for its health benefits, mainly because the drink is high in antioxidants. In particular, green tea contains large amounts of polyphenol antioxidants called catechins, which may help reduce oxidative stress.

For weight loss, studies have shown that green tea extract can help boost the metabolism. Researchers think that the combination of antioxidants and caffeine work together to accomplish this goal.

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For example, in one study, researchers gave participants green tea and guarana extract 30 minutes before each meal. Researchers then analyzed how much energy the participants were burning.

After testing multiple times, researchers found that participants burned an extra 180 calories per day with just this supplement. In addition, green tea extract enhances norepinephrine, a hormone that tells the body to break down stored fat for energy.

Side Effects: Nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach or headaches may occur due to the dietary change or caffeine content. Rare side effects include tremors, seizures or irregular heartbeat. Because of the caffeine content, you should consult with your doctor about using green tea extract if you have a heart condition.

2. Berberine

Another lesser known supplement that provides powerful help is berberine. This supplement is derived from plants and actually enters the body’s cells through the bloodstream, changing the function of the cell. One major benefit that berberine has is its ability to regulate and reduce blood sugar content.

In addition, studies suggest that berberine does boost weight loss directly. In one study, researchers tested 37 participants who suffered from metabolic syndrome.

During testing, the participants took berberine three times per day for three months, and in turn reduced their BMI from 31.5 to 27.4. Also, the researchers noticed that many participants lost abdominal weight and improved other areas of their health.

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Side Effects: Common problems with berberine include cramping, diarrhea, flatulence, constipation and stomach pain. Also, you’ll want to discuss whether or not to take berberine if you are already on medication to lower your blood sugar.

3. Meratrim

One relatively new but promising supplement is Meratrim, a blend of two plant extracts. In one study of the supplement, researchers tested over 50 overweight individuals. Participants were told to take the supplement or a placebo twice a day in addition to eating a 2000-calorie diet and walking for 30 minutes, five times per week.

At the end of 16 weeks, researchers found that participants had decreased their weight, triglycerides and total cholesterol. In addition, no participants reported side effects. Because Meratrim is new, you should consider a more well-tested supplement if you have any major health issues.  

As popular as it is to use fad diets and supplements to lose weight, your main program should focus on exercise and healthy eating.

However, if you choose to boost your efforts with a weight loss supplement, choose one that fits your lifestyle and keeps you safe. Most supplements do have side effects and risks and should never be taken to lose weight alone. In the end, remember that your improved health is the main goal and that healthy weight loss happens gradually for lasting results.

This article first appeared on AskDrManny.com.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel’s senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny’s work, visit AskDrManny.com.

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Are any weight loss supplements considered safe?

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